Pune: Datta Phuge, the Pune businessman who came to be known as the "gold man" after he was photographed in an eye-popping pure gold shirt a few years ago, was allegedly beaten to death in front of his son late last night.
- Mr Phuge had presented himself a 'gold shirt' worth Rs. 1.27 crore
- At least 12 persons attacked Mr Phuge at an open ground in Dighi area
- Mr Phuge was into money lending and chit fund business
Mr Phuge's nephew is among five arrested for murder.
The 48-year-old activist of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) was allegedly dragged out of his car by a dozen men, stabbed with a sickle and pounded to death with huge stones at a large ground in the city.
He had been invited to the spot for a birthday celebration, allegedly by one of the suspects.
His 22-year-old son Shubham told the police that he saw his father being beaten when he was driving past.
"I bought biriyani and was returning home when I saw them beating my father. They came and looked into my car but didn't do anything. I knew seven-eight of them," said Shubham, who has been questioned by the police.
For some reason not yet clear, the businessman's bodyguards were not with him.
A financial dispute is suspected to be the motive.
Mr Phuge, whose wife is an NCP corporator, had a money-lending and chit fund business. He had faced allegations recently of short-changing his customers.
Four years ago, the high-profile businessman made a memorable image in a 22 carat gold shirt worth over Rs one crore, with Swarovski crystal buttons and a matching gold belt. It was billed as the world's most expensive shirt and was designed to catch the eye.
"I want to be famous throughout the country," he admitted.
The 3.5 kg shirt, crafted by 15 workmen from Bengal according to legend, did get him noticed.
Mr Phuge grabbed prime time space on many Marathi television channels even though he could not dazzle his party into picking him as a candidate for the national election.
He told reporters that he simply loved to wear gold. Often, his passion extended to rings, bracelets and a medallion.